Kathy is the Mother Of the Bride, and for her daughter’s wedding, she had a goal, “To lovingly hand-craft beautiful and unique arrangements for my daughter’s wedding, and to save money! I wanted the freshest, most perfect flowers possible in the blue and copper families, and the arrangements to look professionally made.” See how she did just this in her story below…
I never really thought I would do my daughters wedding flowers, It had not come up, but when I learned the cost of a wedding bouquet, I thought that I could do this myself and enjoy the experience, and put the savings into another aspect of the wedding. I enjoy arranging flowers, but have no formal experience. After I talked to my daughter about doing the flowers for her wedding, I contacted our local Michael’s craft store and asked if they would offer a class on bouquet and boutonniere-making. They obliged! A few friends and I spent a couple of hours working with their silk flowers, and our instructor gave us very helpful hints on working with fresh flowers. I gained some experience, tips and confidence as a result of this class. It never hurts to ask, right?
I was looking at different on-line floral sites and came across FiftyFlowers, and liked what I saw. Then I had a conversation with my niece who had done a great deal of research on ordering fresh flowers for her upcoming wedding, and she said that FiftyFlowers was an excellent site that she had researched. I looked at the videos on your site to add to my bank of knowledge. They were most helpful.
The FiftyFlowers “shop by color” was extremely helpful because we were committed to matching the blue and copper color theme. Also, I found the on-line chat very helpful. Lily and I had a long conversation about which flowers were the most hardy, which blooms needed more time to open, which flowers were more delicate. I was looking for beautiful blooms that were hardy, and that could be handled and turned into bouquets and arrangements in advance without worry that they would not peak before the event. The FiftyFlowers site is very workable. The spreadsheet is also very helpful. Lily and I worked on it together, and we knew exactly how many blooms and greens to order. Our calculations were really, really close! I am most impressed. I was not short on anything, and had very few blooms leftover!
The order included 600 roses (275 VooDoo Orange Roses, 100 lighter Queensday Orange Roses, and 250 Vendela Ivory Roses), a large box of Mixed Greens, 8 bunches of Orange Gladiolas, and a large quantity of Blue-Tinted Baby’s Breath.
It takes a village! We were in a suite-style hotel, and it was more economical to order a “studio-suite” for 3 days then to book a conference room for one day! So, Team Flowers worked in what we affectionately called “The Igloo” because we tried to keep the temp at 60 degrees F. I brought a fridge thermometer with me and I raised the fridge temp to 50 degrees F. (No food in fridge if you are using it for flowers!)
Team Flowers: MOB, my niece, three friends and a cousin. Two friends are great bow-makers and they crafted exquisite pew bows, and bows for the bouquets, boutonnieres, and single roses held by the moms and grand moms. One of the bow makers liked making boutonnieres, so she did these! All boutonnieres and bouquets were wrapped in ribbons, which were blue and copper, wired, non-wired, satin, transparent, and all different widths. My niece had already amassed great experience creating bouquets for several of her friends for their weddings, and she made all the bouquets for my daughter’s wedding. There were 6 bridesmaids bouquets, the bridal bouquet (in a cascading-bouquet floral holder with an oasis), the “toss” bouquet, a bouquet for a friend, and one for the longest-married couple in attendance.
My cousin and another friend helped me with the table centerpieces. We made 14 different low table centerpieces, all using a soaked floral oasis placed in different copper containers, such as bowls, coffee and tea pots, a gelatin mold, and a copper basket. I also made two large displays for the ceremony area, and used almost all of the 80 gladiolas, and the blue-tinted baby’s breath, and greens for these pieces. I arranged the blooms and greens in two copper vessels that might hold firewood or magazines. We put green floral oases in these, and weighted down the arrangements by adding clear floral marbles. I also made three hanging arrangements for the veranda and front porch, all set in the floral oasis. There was a whimsical table arrangement made with greens that were set in a copper cable car I had found, thus representing The Bay Area. There were at least 21 total arrangements for the tables and venue.
The FiftyFlowers greens were so fresh and easy to work with! The mixed greens box provided a great variety so that every arrangement we made looked different, even though we used the same roses, baby’s breath and gladiolas in each piece!
My niece and I drew up a plan that she posted in the floral room that described exactly what had to get done regarding the flowers, so that even when I was at the rehearsal and luncheon, the team could forge ahead. The list included the exact number of boutonnieres; including the specific colors of roses and ribbons, the number of attendants’ bouquets (for example, 6 bouquets to be made with 3 creamy Vendela rose centers, 7 Queensday roses surrounding the creamy roses, and 11 VooDoo orange around outer perimeter; greens, ribbons,) and similar breakdowns for the many other bouquets, (bridal, toss bouquet, special gift bouquets), and the number of single roses needed for the moms and grand-moms to carry, and which color ribbons to attach to them. The lists also included the number of table centerpieces, hanging baskets, ….) I am so happy we did this; it proved invaluable.
Also, my niece set aside a bin or two with the specific number of roses, plus some extra, that we had calculated that we would need for the bouquets, boutonnieres, and single roses. With so many individual floral pieces to make, and with several people working on this project, establishing a “wedding party” stash of flowers ensured that we would have more than enough for the bridal party’s needs. My niece placed these flowers away from the general containers that held the gladiolas, blue tinted baby’s breath, greens and the rest of the roses that I would use to make the centerpieces, hanging baskets, large floral displays and other table arrangements. There was no need for concern, however, as the calculations that we and FiftyFlowers made were very accurate. Still, it was helpful to know that I was not dipping into the “bouquet” flowers as I made one table centerpiece after another.
I had floral tape, floral wire, flower extenders, snips, shears, strippers, floral oasis blocks, a bucket (we used a small waste basket to add water to the plastic bins as there was only a shower in the bathroom, and the bucket I bought didn’t fit under the kitchenette sink!) I bought a pair of scissors so we could cut the ribbons with a clean edge. Being so prepared took a fair amount of thought and time, but it was worth all the effort.
I also brought thick gloves for holding the roses as I stripped them. I used both a metal stripper tool, and a bendable plastic tool. Both worked great. I placed a couple of plastic drop cloths on the hotel carpet so we would catch floral debris – those thorns “travel” when you are stripping them. I bought a bottle of bleach and added a bit to each of the large plastic bins we filled with about four inches of water. I used plastic gloves when working with the blue-tinted baby’s breath so I wouldn’t get the blue on my clothes. We didn’t have a problem with this. Again, the plastic sheeting on the floor protected the carpet from the blue dye if we dripped or dropped a piece. The management gave us a large work table and a large bin and heavy-duty plastic bags for our green debris. We kept the boxes that the flowers were packed-in so we could transport the finished arrangements and bouquets in them. We stored completed boutonnieres in a veggie tray in the fridge (set at 50 degrees.)
(We collected these rose petals from the ones we pulled off, stored them in perforated zip-lock bags, then decorated the ceremony space.)
You can see above how we used floral tape to create grids on the containers to help hold the flowers in place when arranging. I also tucked in a broken Gladiola, as well as some of the tips from the Gladiolas to add depth to the centerpiece.
We used all sorts of copper vessels for our arrangements. We went to thrift shops and bought tea kettles, pitchers, vases, trays, baskets, all made of copper. We even used copper gelatin molds to hold the flowers. Each vessel was fitted with a florist’s oasis which we soaked with water. It was fun to create arrangements in these vessels. We even found a copper Cable Car from San Francisco in which we placed many greens to form a whimsical arrangement for a display table at the venue.
I could not have been happier with the results!
One of the most beautiful compliments I received came from my brother. He told me not to take this the wrong way, but that this work “was amateur.” I gave him a hug and understood instantly, The word, “amateur” comes from the word “to love.” He recognized that this was a labor of love, that the care we were giving every crafted piece reflected our deep love for my daughter and her soon-to-be husband. And, as I had stripped all the roses myself, and snipped the baby’s breath, greens and gladiolas to place in the bins of water in the suite, I had personally touched every single stem that was going to be in my daughter’s wedding! This means so much to me!
As for budget, I think that the cost of the flowers (well-priced!!), and all the extras such as mass quantities of ribbons, the copper wire, the “bling” (I bought copper charms and other items to place one each bouquet so that every attendant would know exactly which was hers), the four large suitcases of supplies I had carried with me on visits to the East Coast, the bins, the copper vessels, everything, and the cost of a hotel suite for 3 days as a work space (still less expensive than a conference room for one day!), all of it, was still significantly less than we would have spent if we had paid a florist to do this work. And most importantly, as I said to one family member when she asked me why I just didn’t hire a florist, I got 100% of what we had envisioned, not 50 or 60 or 70%! And then there’s the personal satisfaction, and the exclamation from the groom-to-be when he walked into the room and said that he knew the flowers would be pretty, but that these were amazing!
A special Thank You to Kathy Galgano for sharing her story, filled with tips and tricks. Head to FiftyFlowers to check out our wholesale flowers, watch our instructional videos, or to use our live chat!